Recently I made a new friend. I will not mention his name or where he is from because it is not needed. He is a larger man and very open, friendly and likes to joke. Watching him and seeing how he related to Filipinos made me want to write this.
He will walk right up to a Filipino and with his loud and joking voice say something he thinks id funny. Then he laughs at his joke. If a beggar walks up and has his hand out, he slaps it like a “give me 5” motion. Then says “You want money, go to the bank.” All you need to do, if you’re not going to give them some money is wave them off, say no, or if your near a business or mall, look for a security guard to chase them off.
From this I will write a list of a few things to think about.
Since we are strangers, do not enter someone’s “Private Space.” We all have a private space area that is different, but being a foreigner, you need to remember if someone does not know you, the distance you need to keep is bigger.
Loud voice and talking quickly. A loud voice is threatening especially if you are a stranger and are not used to English with an accent.
Joking. I love to joke but realize “play-on-word” jokes using words with different meanings or different words with same meanings are not understood by most Filipinos. Then if you laugh at your joke, you might be misunderstood that you are joking and laughing at that person.
I am a huger and have noticed this is not something that has common acceptance here with Filipinos. Yes, men walk with men and women walk with women. They sometimes hold hands, hand on shoulder or even around waist. This is a custom of “the group” and I think also so you do not get separated in a crowd. A foreigner is looked as different and the touching is not a common thing. Again it can be taken at a threat.
So as a summary, be nice and friendly, but not overtly. Enter someone’s space slowly and with caution. Speak slowly and in a normal voice. Do not laugh unless you can really tell they understand your meaning. Do not reach out to touch someone unless you’re offering your hand in a handshake. Remember there is a language barrier and misunderstanding. Do not think because they speak to you, Filipinos understand the context of your meanings.
Many times I have experienced a “yes” or “ok” from a Filipino who’s English is not fluent and then realize they did not understand anything about what I said.
But, if you take your time, you will find most Filipinos warm, friendly, hospitable and nice people to meet and talk to.